If there’s one thing that we can grow in our garden, it’s tomatoes and basil. Thanks to earwigs and gophers and such, our eggplants and okra and beets haven’t done too well, but in the two years of having a garden, it has literally overflowed with tomatoes (next year we’re planning on caging them to keep them out of the walkways). And, thanks to a $3 pot of basil starts from Trader Joe’s, we also have an overabundance of basil. So, to try to make a small dent in all of it, I came up with this dish last year and finally christened it “Bruschetta Pasta”. Though there’s a lot of chopping involved, it comes together pretty fast and is so yummy and fresh. Such a summer food!
Cook a pound of pasta; drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking, roughly chop one to two small heads of garlic. Place in a three-quart saucepan and add several big glugs of olive oil, enough to completely cover the bottom of the pan and then some (yes, I know you’re technically not supposed to heat/cook with olive oil much, but you really need the flavour in this dish and it doesn’t actually cook that long). Start cooking on medium heat. While garlic is cooking, chop lots of tomatoes (I usually just halve our Sungolds and quarter the cherries, and cut the Romas and other larger tomatoes into bite-size chunks), making sure to try and keep most of the juice with the tomatoes, as it’s an integral part of the sauce. Chiffonade lots of basil by stacking the leaves, rolling them into a cigar and slicing that as thinly as you can. As garlic cooks, stir occasionally to keep it from sticking the bottom of the pan. Once it just starts to brown, add all the basil…and stand back, since it sputters a lot, especially if the basil was wet. Once the sputtering has calmed down, stir a couple times and let cook for a minute or so. Remove from heat and immediately add your chopped tomatoes and stir well for the oil and tomato juice to emulsify. Add a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar; salt and pepper generously. Return to low heat and add chopped grilled chicken. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is heated through. Pour over cooked pasta and add some grated Asiago cheese. Mix well and enjoy!